I always knew I would do something to help other people who had suffered sexual violence I just didn’t know what for a long time. I had spent twenty years trying to piece myself and my life together after being raped, aged 17. I went on a quest to ‘fix me’ because I believed that I was now damaged somehow.
I wanted other survivors to know they didn’t need to live in shame. That they weren’t damaged goods; that they were in deed stronger, braver and wiser.
Twenty years after the incident I decided to report it to the police. I was ready to start helping other survivors and needed to be ok about my own journey. I didn’t think it would go beyond the police, but the police and CPS felt there was enough evidence to risk a trial and after a lengthy and traumatic period, a guilty verdict gave my attacker a five-year sentence and a criminal record. I’m one of the lucky ones; of the few cases that actually make it to court, only one in three currently get a guilty verdict despite the police and CPS believing there is enough evidence for a guilty outcome.
I wanted other survivors to know they didn’t need to live in shame. That they weren’t damaged goods; that they were in deed stronger, braver and wiser. I wanted to them to find their way to healing and thriving again quicker than I had. So I wrote my book; Brave Souls.
As well as supporting IDAS in whatever way I can, I also work with another charity Angles, to influence the way media reports on cases of sexual violence. There are so many taboos and myths around sexual violence. Sadly, it’s still too much of a taboo topic and until we find our way to have a real conversation about such things, we won’t change them systemically.
IDAS were a tremendous support to me throughout the police investigation, the court case and beyond, which took nearly three years. My ISVA walked alongside me like a guardian angel preparing and supporting me at each stage. She’s a treasured soul. Without her I’d have been a total mess. Your friends and family don’t know enough about sexual violence to be able to support you in the way you need when you’re going through something like this and they fear saying the wrong thing so often don’t say anything. The support from IDAS is crucial in protecting individuals from further harm as a result of the process.
You can watch a video interview with Jennifer and Sam her IDAS ISVA here.